Netflix Documentary Goes Deep On 'Gay Conversion' Therapy Movement

"Pray Away," due out Aug. 3, charts the rise of Exodus International, a now-defunct Christian ministry that once claimed to "cure" same-sex attraction.
"Pray Away," directed by Kristine Stolakis, premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
"Pray Away," directed by Kristine Stolakis, premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
Courtesy of Netflix

A new documentary set to probe the origins of the reparative therapy movement ― also known as “gay conversion” therapy ― is due out on Netflix next month.

The streaming platform on Monday unveiled the trailer for “Pray Away,” which is produced by Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum for Blumhouse Television. The film, which premieres Aug. 3, charts the rise and fall of Exodus International, a Florida-based Christian ministry that for nearly 40 years claimed to offer a “cure” for same-sex attraction, before shuttering in 2013.

The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have discredited conversion therapy, and 20 U.S. states have legislation in place banning the practice on minors. As “Pray Away” shows, many of the leaders once involved with Exodus International later came out as LGBTQ and denounced the practice themselves.

Catch the “Pray Away” trailer below.

Originally slated to hit theaters in 2020, “Pray Away” had its world premiere last month at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival after being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a 2020 interview, director Kristine Stolakis said “Pray Away” was largely inspired by her uncle, who came out as transgender as a child and subsequently attended conversion therapy.

“He spent his lifetime believing that being straight and cisgender was the only way to be psychologically healthy and spiritually accepted,” she told the blog Women and Hollywood. “It wasn’t until I discovered leaders of the movement, people who claimed that they had themselves changed from gay to straight who were teaching others to do the same, that I understood the depth of his hope and his resulting trauma when he, of course, was unable to change himself.”

“When you believe you are doing the right thing, and when you are taught that the only way to be accepted in your family, community, and society at large is to be straight and cisgender, there is a lot of motivation to believe change is possible,” she added.

The conversion therapy movement was depicted in the 2018 drama “Boy Erased,” which starred Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. In recent interviews, actors Bowen Yang and Alyson Stoner have spoken about their experiences with conversion therapy as children.

"Pray Away" hits Netflix Aug. 3.
"Pray Away" hits Netflix Aug. 3.

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